Cancer is main cause of death in Ireland

Cancer continues to be the main cause of death and illness in Ireland — with a leading life insurer paying out almost €190m to families last year.

According to Irish Life’s annual claims report for its retail business, it paid out €187.8m to customers and their families affected by illness and death during 2017. 

The report, which provides an insight into the health issues affecting families, includes an overview of the illnesses and conditions that led to payments for 2,582 life insurance, specified illness cover, and terminal illness claims in 2017.

Irish Life paid €129.7m for 1,689 life insurance claims in 2017, €53.7m for 853 specified illness cover claims, and a further €4.4m for 40 terminal illness claims.

This represents an increase of 10% overall in the value of claims paid out to Irish Life customers compared to 2016 figures.

The average payment was €76,786 for life insurance claims, €62,992 for specified illness cover claims, and €109,534 for terminal illness claims.

Cancer was again the main cause of both life insurance (42%) and specified illness claims (62%), followed by heart-related conditions which accounted for 10% of deaths and 20% of specified illness claims. Overall, breast cancer was the main type of cancer for specified illness claimants.

Within the life insurance category, accidental deaths accounted for 7% of all claims, representing a total payment of €17.1m.

The average age for accidental death claims was just 49, the lowest average age on record, with more men (63%) dying from accidental death causes than women (28%). 

A quarter of all life insurance claims for those under 40 were as a result of an accident, making it the second-biggest cause of claims for this age-group again this year. 

Some €1m was paid out to families of those who died in road traffic accidents in 2017.


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